EVERY SCHOOL YEAR brings with it a graduating class, a new batch of fresh-faced students and simultaneously, the sense of starting all over again. Educational institutions subsequently need to “restock” with incoming students, and revamped marketing initiatives can be just the thing to attract the next star quarterback or future valedictorian.
Promo Marketing asked Ilene Wilder, director of marketing and business development at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, about the needs of such a sprawling institution. “My primary responsibility is to create and execute marketing plans to support the business initiatives of the [business services] division,” she explained. “In addition, I manage new product development that supports the brand identity of the university and its athletic programs through merchandising and the related licensed vendor relationships.”
So, put on a pair of glasses
and sharpen a (custom-imprinted)
pencil. School is in session.
PM: What kind of promotional products does Penn order most
Wilder: Each of Penn’s 12 schools and centers, as well as the university’s large health system, handles their own marketing initiatives. However, since I work closely with merchandising and licensing, many of these departments seek my advice for where and what to purchase.
On the low-cost end, T-shirts and pens are the most commonly purchased items. On occasion, the university may purchase more unique items for recognition opportunities. The higher-end items are often more specific to the audience or event.
PM: What has been the most complicated order you’ve submitted this year?
Wilder: We did a crazy cube, with photos of Penn [printed] on it. Because we wanted to evoke emotion around the Penn brand through images and words, it required some thought and strategy in selecting and placing the right photos and text. Once this was accomplished, the vendor handled the placement to make it all work. It turned out to be such a great piece, we now sell them in the Penn bookstore and people love them.